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If you use a cooling tower as part of regular operations at your worksite, water treatment is something you need to be aware of. In this handy guide to cooling tower water treatment, we take a look at why this treatment is so necessary in achieving an efficient and safe site, as well as examine the clean water technology and best practices that you can deploy at your own facility.
Why do you need to treat your cooling tower water?
The water in a cooling tower system – similar to that found within a boiler system – may seem relatively unimportant compared to other aspects of your facility’s operation. This water is obviously not intended for human consumption, and it will not be released into the water table until it has gone through waste water processing. So why is it so important to treat your cooling tower?
Cooling tower water treatment provides a range of important benefits, including:
- Improved productivity at your facility
Cooling towers rely upon the transfer of energy – heat energy is transferred from a material into the cooling tower water, completing the cooling process. Contaminants and impurities in the cooling tower water can significantly decrease the heat transfer efficiency, leading to reduced productivity. Proper treatment can be useful in reversing this inefficiency.
There are other ways that treatment can improve productivity, too. With a systematic treatment system in place, your team won’t need to worry about assessing the water during the course of their work. This allows them to focus on other, more pressing tasks.
- More reliable operation and improved uptime
Contaminants have a habit of building up over time. This means damage becomes worse over time, and your facility becomes less and less efficient, sometimes leading to downtime while you retroactively clean and repair your system.
Of course, treating the water before such damage occurs works as a proactive response. This, in turn, helps your facility to achieve maximized uptime and optimal profitability.
- Longer component lifespans
Scale and corrosion can wreak havoc on your system’s components. This significantly reduces their lifespan and leads to costly repairs and even replacements further down the line.
Treating the water in your system minimizes this harmful effect, extending the lifespan of your components and reducing the cost of operations at your facility.
- Safer operation
Microbial and chemical buildup can cause health hazards at your facility. Malfunctions and other issues can also lead to safety concerns.
Proper water treatment can help you to alleviate these concerns.
Clean water technology: Cooling tower water treatment methods
Treatment is certainly necessary for the cooling tower water at your facility, but how is this treatment carried out? Learn more about the clean water technology and the treatment methods you can deploy on your site.
In most cases, filtration performs most of the “heavy lifting” in terms of treating the cooling tower water. Advanced clean water technology is used to craft these filters, which are deployed to remove suspended particles from the water. The advantage of a high-quality filter is twofold:
- Modern filtration technology is highly capable. It can be used to remove even extremely small particles from the water flow, less than one micron in size in some cases.
- Filters are generally not used in isolation, and other methods will be deployed alongside this one. With the right approach to filtration, other components of the water treatment system will be protected from the damage caused by these contaminants.
Often, the water in your cooling tower will be recirculated through the system, conserving money and resources in the process. If this is the case at your facility, you may need to deploy an additional level of filtration to remove contaminants that may have entered the water on its journey through the system. This is also referred to as side-stream filtration.
If your facility is located in a hard water area, this can cause problems within your cooling tower and within your broader system. Scale can begin to build up in pipes and other fixtures, reducing the efficiency of the water flow and shortening the lifespan of your equipment. Ion exchange materials containing sodium ions can remove many of the substances that cause this scale to form, such as any calcium, magnesium, or iron ions in the water. This leaves behind a sodium-based molecule that can then be easily removed from the system.
As an alternative to ion exchange – or perhaps to provide an additional level of protection from scaling – chemical treatments can be applied. Phosphoric acid is sometimes used as a water treatment to prevent magnesium and calcium ions from forming damaging scale deposits within the system.
Other chemical methods can be used to prevent corrosion of key components within the system and to extend its lifespan. In most cases, anti-corrosion chemical treatments involve the use of an alkaline substance to neutralize any acidic content within the water in order to prevent corrosion. Bicarbonates are often used for this purpose.
Microbes and other biological contaminations can cause problems when they begin to build up in cooling tower water. Biocide and algaecide chemicals can be used to prevent this growth and to work proactively against possible future contamination. Examples include bromine-based treatments.
Blowdown is not technically a treatment method as it is part of the general operation of your cooling tower. However, it is still a useful part of the treatment process. During blowdown, water is passed through a valve that is used to remove excess solids that may have become dissolved in the water. These solids can be siphoned away for safe and hygienic disposal either on or off your site.
Make cooling tower water treatment a key part of your operations
Investing in effective treatment for your cooling tower water does require an element of capital expense up front. However, it will lead to significant cost savings over time, as well as a host of other benefits that make it worthwhile.